If there is one word that jumps out at us from the Bible, it is “remember.” Through his prophets, God is constantly exhorting the people of Israel to recall their story—to remind one another of what the Lord has done for them. They are called to never forget who they are and who the Lord is.
As we enter more deeply into the story of salvation, we can see why Scripture is so insistent on remembering. We are instructed to remember because it is the natural order of things for us to forget. Have you ever noticed this? Have you ever noticed how easy it is to forget all the ways that God has blessed you? Have you ever noticed how easy it is to fall into the trap of asking, “OK, Lord, what have you done for me lately?” This attitude is not only self-centered but short-sighted. How quick we are to forget.
I am just as guilty of this as anyone. I can be slow to remember and quick to forget. I can give my mind to the countless voices that are constantly trying to get my attention. During the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, I discovered that I was almost constantly tempted toward distraction and distress.
I love to read. One of the ways I “read” is with my ears—through audiobooks and podcasts. I am tremendously grateful that I can learn something new while I am driving, cooking, or brushing my teeth. During 2020, though, I was listening to so many different voices and filling my mind with so many opinions that I was … splintering. I was listening to intelligent people who had helpful things to say. I was learning and growing, and I was inspired to develop my own way of looking at the world. But while these voices contained wisdom, they only had a certain kind of wisdom. What could be called “the wisdom of the world.” I appreciated it. I valued it. But I also knew that it was limited. It was shaping how I looked at the world, but it wasn’t united and it didn’t bring me peace. As I said, I was distracted and distressed.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed to allow the wisdom of God to refocus, reshape, and reform my mind. I opened the book of Judges and read about a dark time in the history of God’s people: a time when there was a lack of good leadership; a time when the people of Israel were divided; a time when everyone simply “did what was right in their own eyes.” I began to see things in a new way. I allowed the incredible story of Scripture to teach me and form the way I viewed my own story … and our shared story. I saw the ways God was able to be present in the midst of pain, how he could work with broken people and broken systems. I recognized how God persisted in caring for his people, even when they were quick to run after idols and slow to repent. I saw how the Lord faithfully loved those who quickly forgot his love.
So I had an idea. What if we recorded a podcast where people could hear God’s Word and be reminded of the Story every day? What if we could allow the Bible to shape the way we view God, the world, ourselves, and others? What if we made it incredibly easy, gave people a map, and offered them some guidance?
The idea of The Bible in a Year was born.
So I reached out to my friends at Ascension, telling them what I had been pondering and inviting them to consider allowing me (or anyone they thought might do a decent job) to host a “Bible in a year” podcast. Providentially, they had been considering doing something like this for years but were uncertain about the “who” and the “when.” When I raised my hand, they had their answer.
And I had mine. For the next year, I would be privileged to journey with a great number of people through God’s Word. We would all give the Lord a chance to speak to us in a new way. We would give less attention to the voices that distracted and distressed—and more attention to the voice of the Shepherd who unites and gathers his people.
In a way, the phenomenal response to The Bible in a Year makes sense because we have done three things that address the obstacles nearly everyone faces when they set out to read the Bible:
- First, we have made it easy. Allowing God’s Word to penetrate your mind is as easy as pressing “play.” That is maybe my favorite part; even if someone falls behind, they can always simply press play.
- Second, we have been given a map. In The Great Adventure® Bible Study Program’s Bible Timeline® Learning System, Jeff Cavins offers us a way to understand the Bible so that we never lose track of the Story. The Bible Timeline has greatly helped hundreds of thousands understand the Scriptures better, myself included.
- Third, we have a guide. Sometimes, we read (or listen to) a passage of the Bible and have no idea what was just said. A guide who can remind us of its context and bring our attention to meaningful elements can be such a gift. My hope is that I will be such a guide for you. Some of the guidance I offer comes from the wisdom of the Church, the saints, and other Bible commentators who have taught me so much, and some comes from my own prayer and reflection.
It is my hope that The Bible in a Year will help many apply a biblical worldview to their lives. Our culture has lost this worldview, but this podcast might be one step in helping rediscover it.
A final point. I believe that this Bible in a Year Companion is a great tool to take you deeper. It is one thing to be exposed to the Story, but it is another to remember it. This Companion will help those who are so quick to forget—which is all of us! By utilizing this book, we will hopefully remember what we need to in “the Good Book.” In this world, where we are so tempted toward distraction and distress, we now have a resource to understand how the story of salvation unfolds and how we can fit into that story today.
Now, we have a place to remember.
–Fr. Mike Schmitz